August 1999 Edition The Johari Window and the Dark Side of Organisations Author: Stewart Hase, Alan Davies and Bob Dick Southern Cross University Keywords: Organisation, management, organisational theory, corporatism, corporatist ideology, social theory, work, self-awareness, Johari Window, individualism, postmodernism. Article style and source: Peer Reviewed. Original ultiBASE publication.
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Abstract Succumbing to Self-interest The Dark Side of Organisations Revealing About Others References
Abstract The dark side of organisations is a phenomenon rarely dealt with in management training programs and spoken of only in whispers in corporate tea rooms. Conspiracies of silence, collusion, 'jobs for the boys', hidden agendas and collusion are just some of the issues that affect the quality of working life of individuals and the effectiveness of organisations. The Johari Window (Lutz, 1969) has been used here in a modified form to describe aspects of the dark side of the organisation and as a way of bringing them to life for would be players in 'corporate games'. top Succumbing to Self-interest
"Well, human speech be like pictures, only word pictures. When we speaks we paints a word picture that we wants others to see, but we only paints a part o’ the picture what’s in our heads. The other part, usually the most important part, we leaves behind because it be the truth, the true picture. So your ears have to have eyes, so they can see how much o’ the real picture what be in the head be contained in the words!" (Ikey Solomon talking to Tommo and Hawke, the Potato Factory, 1995)
John Ralston Saul (1997) in the Unconscious Civilisation proposes that there is an almost childlike way in which society avoids the reality of its situation, choosing instead to believe a fantasy perpetuated by a corporatist ideology. Legitimacy lies with conformist specialist groups who negotiate between themselves, supposedly for the common good. More importantly for the purposes of this paper Saul also points to the idea that corporatism places us in the grip of self-interest or, perhaps more accurately, with the inability to make disinterested decisions at either a conscious or unconscious level. In either case, conscious or unconscious, the person is striving, at worst, for power and personal gain, or, at best, for continued survival in a competitive and corporate environment. Saul stresses that we are in fact losing the struggle for democracy and individualism despite increased access to knowledge, information and education. Instead we are succumbing, ‘…to the darker side within us and within our society’ (1997: 36). In this paper we will take up this theme within the context of organisations rather than the larger society. We are interested in the ‘dark side’ of organisations and the effect this darker side has on the quality of working life of the individual and, ultimately, on the organisation itself. In this analysis a very clever extension and application of the Johari Window (Lutz, 1969), dreamt up by Alan Davies, will be used to describe the effect of corporatism and self-interest that is unconsciously or consciously supported by us all. top The Dark Side of Organisations This dark side of organisations is manifest in myriad malevolent ways such as: hidden agendas; collusion and conspiracies of silence; jobs for the boys (and girls); victimisation; self-interest; and corruption, for example. The motive for the dark side can be largely unconscious and, as Saul (1997) suggests, a part of out childlike incapacity to thoroughly understand what is happening. Some of these unconscious motives are: the blind belief in the rhetoric that it is all for the collective good; uncertainty and anxiety for a whole range of reasons from the fear of redundancy to a lack of skills and knowledge; and the need for recognition, for example. Chin-Ning Chu (1997) says that our existential sense of insecurity drives us to diminish our...
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